MASON CITY | Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, is calling on Democrats and Republicans to work together to pass the "most significant comprehensive overhaul of school bus safety since the 1990s."
Braley was at Lincoln Intermediate School in Mason City on Tuesday to talk about the "School Bus Safety Act" which is modeled after Iowa's Kadyn's Law. The law stiffened penalties for passing stopped school buses.
Kadyn's Law was named after Kadyn Halverson, 7, Kensett, who was fatally struck by a pickup truck in May 2011, as she crossed a road to board her school bus near Northwood.
Braley's proposal would require states to enact tougher penalties for drivers who fail to obey stop arms on school buses, mandatory background checks on bus drivers and provide grants for motion-activated detection systems on the exterior of school buses to alert drivers when a moving target is detected within danger zones near the front, rear and sides of the bus.
"We've received great reception from school districts and parents and concerned citizens about doing more to protect kids on school buses. It only takes tragedies like the ones that took the life of Kadyn Halverson to make people realize that there is more we can be doing and more we should be doing," Braley said. "One of the great things about serving in the House is there are 434 other representatives that have similar stories from their districts. The key is to try to rally people around those common experiences."
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APPEARING WITH BRALEY in Mason City was Kristen Meyer, Kadyn's aunt.
"Our family just wants all children and families to feel safe when they are going to school," Meyer said.
"We really hope that drivers become more aware of their surroundings and of the school buses going to and from school because as Braley mentioned drivers are in a hurry and they are not paying attention. We just want drivers to stop and think what they are doing."
Braley said any parent who has watched their children board a school bus knows the feeling of wanting to use every took possible to ensure their safety.
"People put their own needs to get where they are going ahead of the safety of children," Braley said.
Braley is also the Democratic nominee in the June 3 primary election for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Tom Harkin.